Jury Clears Cemetery in Death of Boy Crushed by Tombstone

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jury clears cemetery in death of boy crushed by tombstone.

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — A jury found late Thursday that a Utah cemetery association was not negligent in the death of a 4-year-old boy who was crushed by a historic headstone, one of a handful of similar deaths around the country in recent years. Jurors delivered their decision in a family lawsuit over the 2012 death of Carson Dean Cheney, who was hiding behind the 250-pound tombstone that fell while he took pictures with his family in Park City. Lawyers for the boy’s parents argued that the Glenwood Cemetery Association allowed the stone to get dangerously weak with shoddy maintenance and failed to warn people about possible danger, including that headstones had fallen before. The association said its volunteers conducted frequent inspections of the cemetery and the headstone was solid until the boy started playing on it July 5, 2012.

Family attorney Ron Kramer could not immediately be reached after the verdict came down late Thursday after about three and a half hours of deliberation. They were staying at a nearby resort in the ski town, but decided to take the short walk to the picturesque outdoor spot during a brief break in the weather. During the three-day trial, the boy’s father testified that he turned from his camera to see his son looking at him as he lay trapped under the headstone. At his mother’s encouragement to help, Carson put his hands on the headstone so he could pop up behind and make the other kids laugh by pretending to be a leprechaun, Kramer said. The child’s parents “didn’t even know Carson was behind the headstone until it was too late,” said Kramer, who set up a gray foam replica of the four-foot headstone topped with a star shape and a cross in the courtroom Tuesday.

Carson’s family says steel dowels that attached Michael Horan’s headstone stone to its base rusted out over the years, and it was repaired with construction adhesive. Attorney Paul Belnap said the Horan family and volunteers had been making regular inspections in the months before the boy’s death and as recently as two days before. The cemetery was closed for six weeks after the boy’s death, and when it reopened, the association posted signs asking people not to touch the headstones and to stay on footpaths. In June 2012, the month before Carson’s death, a 4-year-old North Carolina girl was killed when a massive cross fell off a tombstone as she played before Bible study class.

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